Content Written/Updated on May 13, 2007
Limiting-beliefs are ideas that hold you back, ideas that keep you from becoming the person you want to be or doing the things you want to do. Most of the time, they're not even true; they're myths that we let control our lives. Many times, we aren't even consciously aware that we have these beliefs. They often exist in our subconscious, directing our automatic judgments and influencing our decisions.
How Do You Know if You Have Limiting-Beliefs?
If you have ever found yourself saying "I can't" or "There's nothing I can do" or even if you catch yourself using words like never, always, all, and none then you probably have some limiting-beliefs.
If you feel that your life isn't how you want it, and you feel helpless or hopeless about it, then you probably have limiting-beliefs.
How Can I Recognize Limiting-Beliefs?
The first indication that you have a limiting-belief is a feeling. Sometimes you may feel anxious or angry when faced with something that you have limiting-beliefs about. Sometimes you may just feel overwhelmed, irritated, or depressed without knowing why.
When you notice that you are having uncomfortable feelings, stop what you're doing and ask yourself, "Why?"
"Why does being around men make me feel uncomfortable?"
"Why do I get angry when I have to go to work?"
"Why do I feel anxious whenever I have to talk to my relatives?"
Take time to honestly answer those questions, and you will start to discover the limiting-beliefs that keep you from having the life that you want. Once you begin to recognize your limiting beliefs, you can start to think about how true they are and whether or not you need to change them, so you can start living the life you want and having more happiness.
Examples of Limiting-Beliefs and Influenced Decisions
- I have always been poor, and I'll always be poor, so there's no point in trying to earn more money.
- I'm not lucky, so I won't try anything that requires luck.
- Anyone who is athletic is competitive and dominating, so I don't want to do things that are athletic.
- Anyone who looks stylish and attractive is shallow and vain and usually stupid, so I'd rather just look average.
- Anyone who is wealthy is greedy, so I'd rather be in middle-class.
- If I didn't earn it, then I don't deserve it, even if it was a gift, so I always try to find a way to earn what I get, such as by doing favors for receiving gifts.
- If I share what I have, I won't have anything left, so I don't like to share things or donate money.
- Anyone who doesn't share is greedy and selfish, so I always let anyone borrow my things, and I always donate money whenever anybody asks.
- Anyone who is overweight is lazy, doesn't care about health, has no self-esteem, and isn't liked by others, so I will do anything I can to keep from gaining weight.
- Anyone who is thin is anorexic, so I'd rather be on the heavy side.
- If I don't have a degree from a respected university, my knowledge won't be respected by others, so I only list my university studies on resumes.
- Bosses are power-hungry and hated by other employees, so I never want to be a boss.
- If I don't look older, nobody will take me seriously, so I avoid trying to look my age or younger.
- If I don't look younger, nobody will think I'm attractive, so I avoid trying to look my age or older.
- I can't trust anyone else to do the job as well as I can, so I have to do everything myself.
- I have to do everything my religious texts or leaders tell me to do, or I'll be punished for eternity.
- Women can't handle the pressure of high-stress jobs, so I won't work with a woman.
- Men aren't sensitive and understanding enough, so I won't work with a man.
- When things are going well, something very bad will happen to ruin it, so I won't let myself enjoy anything too much.